Day 2 – NYC Dance Week Festival 2013

7.00 – 10.00 pm – Community Class, taught by H+ Crew @ Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory

When you walk into a hip-hop dance class, the last thing one would expect to be doing are Chinese meditation exercises.  But this is in fact the way the three hour class began last night, and what a treat it was. H+ stretch Led by Principal Dancer, Sara Ahn, participants were instructed to extend their arms out to both sides of their body like a ‘T’, keeping them at shoulder height with both wrists flexed up for an unspecified amount of time (turned out to be about 10 minutes!).  The goal is to strengthen the mind body connection. What does your mind do when your body signals to it that the arms hurt? Or when they begin to feel like lead weights?  Sara suggests that these moments are gifts.  They are opportunities to reassert your mind’s power over your body, to allow it to try something new and grow.  This was the spirit and intention carried throughout the class.

What a breath of fresh air that was.  This message reached right in and released a pressure valve for me.  As a dancer — actually, as a human, I sometimes get caught up in ‘am I doing it right?,’ ‘what if I look foolish?,’ and ‘everybody here knows something I don’t.’  Instead, Resident Choreographer Raphaela Riemer, encouraged us to keep moving H+ videographyno matter what, and to try something new and grow, with her bad ass b-girl styling and liquid flow.  When I grow up in hip-hop, I wanna be dope like her!

Then… Woom!  Wam!  Wam woom!  Boom kack!  Diggie diggie dah dah! These were the sounds of the choreography learning segment, otherwise known as ‘videography.’  Artistic Director, Safi Thomas, advised the class that the best way to remember choreography is by assigning value to each move or phrase.  ‘You remember the things that are important to you,’ he asserts.  The organic rhythmic sounds coming from the H+ dancers as they rehearsed and showed us the steps definitely made each move feel memorable and important. Soon the whole room was singing along with enthusiasm.  All in all, the H+ experience was enlightening, invigorating and inviting, a whole lot more than I bargained for, a true community.

*Photos courtesy of AK47 Division

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Posted by on June 22, 2013 in Uncategorized


Day 1 – NYC Dance Week Festival 2013

10.00 am – Zumba, taught by me @ Flushing YMCA

6.00 pm – Lila, taught by Oscar Trujillo @ Studio Anya

7.30 pm – Elisa Monte and Jennifer Muller @ New York Live Arts Academy

Yesterday, the first day of NYC Dance Week, was the trifector for me – being a teacher, being a student, being an observer.  And now writing about it. A dream day in a dancer’s world.  The only thing that could have topped it off for me was if I was choreographing as well.  Although, I’m coming to see that all of life is a work in choreography.  An artist is always in the process of creating work just by observing life and storing images and memories in preparation for the next great moment of creative expression.

My festival activities for Day 1….

ZumbaSOBs - crowd picAdmittedly, the Zumba class I taught at the YMCA today was not a part of the festival.  Just my regular (awesome) Thursday morning class and my favorite group of crazy Zumba lovers who have been with me since the beginning of my Zumba journey.  I always get a thrill out of teaching this class.  The energy is super high and sweat is pouring.  We eat up the moves together.  Today I introduced three new choreos (songs) for only the second time.  We have something new to gnash our teeth on for while.

Then I headed downtown to try a class called Lila (pronounced “leela”) at Studio Anya in Chelsea taught byLila Class - Oscar Trujillo Oscar Trujillo.  Inspired by a Hindu concept meaning sacred play or cosmic dance, Lila combines ballet barre, modern dance, vinyasa yoga, pilates and tai chi.  I had to try it to believe.  And yes, the experience is true to it’s word.  Of course, there is only so much one can do in a 60 minute class.  My guess is, if one keep’s coming back, you would likely see more of these different styles and techniques woven in, probably leaning more towards one style or another depending on the day.  It was a fascinating experience.  My body is thoroughly confused and thankful for it.

My thrilling day got even more exciting as I accompanied the fabulous Christine Jowers of The Dance Enthusiast to see Elisa Monte and Jennifer Muller at New York Live Arts.  The new work by Muller, GRASS, was one of the more memorable works for me of the evening.  Performed on actual ‘grass’ turf lining the stage floor, to a live cello soloist, the piece is a whirling winding story of couples and threesomes and individuals, in a constant flow of breaking and remaking.  There are many singular moments that stand out, but the overall message that I received is that humans can come together and make something beautiful.  And this beauty is in the wholeness as much as it is in the cracks.  Watching this piece was an experience in wabi-sabi.JM's GRASS 2

In my cruising around on the web for info related to NYC Dance Week, I found the following tool that maybe be helpful for you as you are taking classes.  It’s a website by FitEngine that gives reviews on a bunch of classes, many of which are offered for free during this festival.  It can be helpful as a kind of ‘know before you go’ service

All my best.  And until tomorrow, let the rhythm get ya!

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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in Uncategorized


dancing Dancing DANCING!!! 10 Glorious Days of Dance @ the NYC Dance Week Festival

Dance finds you where you are.  And here I am, again, ready to dance.  NYC Dance Week 2013 backdropThis week I will be embarking on something special.  Tomorrow is the first of 10 glorious days of absolutely free dance classes in New York as part of NYC Dance Week 2013.  Anyone who’s ever tried taking dance classes in New York City knows that the average dance class, around $17 per class, is cost prohibitive for many, especially dancers trying to keep their craft up and body moving while keeping a roof over their head.    Founded by Tasha Norman of FitEngine, NYC Dance Week takes down this seemingly insurmountable barrier for 10 wonderful days in which some of the City’s top dance studios open their doors for free. There will be classes at the Joffrey, Alvin Ailey, Mark Morris, DNA, STREB, and more… It is a veritable smorgasbord for those who love movement.  And since, that is my favorite form of self-expression, I will be at the table for the feast.

ZumbaSOBs_055 And don’t you worry, I will be be bringing you along with me.  Stay tuned for daily descriptions, photos and possibly even video of my experience in some of NYC’s most hallowed halls of dance!  Below is a list of what’s on my agenda for the 10 days so far.  Of course, this list is subject to change and can also expand if I receive good suggestions.  And who knows, maybe I’ll see you there!  If you see me, definitely say hi. I will also be blogging this experience at The Dance Enthusiast so be sure to go there and check it out as well.  PS – I went to the opening gala for this event.  It was a rockin’ time, check out the pics here.

6/20: Core Synergy Conditioning @ Joffrey

6/21: Capoeira for Beginners @Arte Capoeira

6/22: Contemporary – Simonson Technique + Samba & Brazilian Fusion @ Mark Morris

6/24: Modern Dance with Danté Brown @ DNA

6/25: Beginner Ballet @ Joffrey

6/26: Bollywood Funk @ Ripley Grier

6/28: Community Class @ Hip Hop Conservatory

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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in new york, Uncategorized


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2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Uncategorized


Sooo Juicy!

Sooo Juicy!

It’s almost the end of my three day vitality juice fast and I’ve made nine juices in three days, nine different juicing experiences. Making juice is definitely an experience. I started making juice, oh, just about two weeks ago so I am clearly an expert. Just kidding. In fact, it’s been kind of comical how quickly I’ve had to learn on my feet through this whole fasting experience. Here, I share with you some of the things I’ve picked up through sheer trial and error in case you feel up for the delightful challenge of a juice fast or if you just want to add some of the nutritious benefits of nature’s internal body scrub to your life.

1. A little goes a long way. I quickly figured out after making my shopping list, using the 3 Days to Vitality book by Pamela Serure as a guide, and bringing my groceries home that I would have enough fruits and veggies to last for way more than 3 days of juice. Now, as a person who drank fresh juice before the fast and plans to keep making it after, that was good news. But if you’re really only planning on juicing for the days of your fast, keep in mind that less is more and no one likes ‘spoiled produce guilt’ because you just didn’t get to them in time.

2. Caress your fruit. I’ve noticed grapes love nothing better than to be submerged in a basin of lukewarm water and popped from the vine while receiving a nice rub to get the dirt off. She’s delusional from three days of drinking all her meals, you say. But I promise you, part of the fun is getting in there and getting personal with your food. Feeling the fuzziness of the skin of an organic peach under your fingertips. Connecting with the flesh of a peeled beet, knowing that the pigment will stain your hands for two days. Learning just the right angle to remove the skin and eyes of a pineapple while leaving as much of the flesh on as possible – I’m still not great at that one lol. Handling the food slowly and deliberately, with a sense of appreciation, definitely makes me feel more connected to our Earth and grateful for its sustenance.

3. Glass bottles make your juice look sexy. Once you make all that juice, it’s gonna need somewhere to go. Rare is the occasion that you will finish all you juice in one sitting. There will be leftovers. And you will be thankful for those when you are craving the greasiest bacon cheeseburger you can think of – or maybe that’s just me lol. Save up your glass bottles beforehand from your spaghetti sauce, coconut oil, celtic sea salt, guacamole, etc. Different shapes and sizes make it more fun. You’ll be avoiding storing your juice in plastics that leak bpa into your food and you’ll be helping protect our planet with your personal recycling efforts.

4. Juice it and Blend it. You need a juicer and a blender. The juicer cleverly removes all the pulp leaving behind an easily drinkable substance, which is great for items like kale and cabbage. But there will be times, like for your morning or lunch drink when you may want something a little denser for that “full” – I’m definitely not craving Mickey D’s right now – feeling. For this, you’ll need your blender to liquify, for example, some pineapple peach papaya goodness. The mash up is fantastic and you can chew each sip to savor it.

5. Green juice is not just for the Irish. It’s green, it’s mucky, it’s gross for some if us to even think about, me included. But it has a surprisingly refreshing and light taste, less swamp juice and more sporty boost Mehcad Brooks style *swoon*…I digress… As I was saying, just think of all that yummy chlorophyll going down. Add some spirulina in there for an extra algae bonus. And it’s the closest thing you’ll get to drinking sunshine.

Hope this was helpful. Let me know if you try it and how it goes for you. Now off to juice my tenth and final drink. You guessed it, the Mean Green.


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Keeping the rhythm

Something pretty miraculous happens when I get in front of a Zumba class and the music comes on.  My body becomes a drum and I am the rhythm keeper. The class gyrates, rocks, thrusts and pulses, using my body’s timing as it’s heartbeat.

Of course, it all starts with the music. The music gives us the tempo and the timing.  But not everyone in the class is familiar with all the different rhythms – salsa, merengue, reggaeton, cumbia, bachata, samba, salsaton, hip hop, coupé décalé, kuduro, champeta, and on and on – and how they are danced. I take my tempo cues from the music and the class responds to this by taking their cues from my body.

This is one of the things that most amazes me about Zumba.  The way you can let go inside of the rhythm.  Especially when you trust your rhythm keeper i.e. your instructor.

How did I become a trusted rhythm keeper for my fellow beat seekers?  It’s a wonder because I’m usually that girl in dance class that has to watch others do the moves the first couple times before I catch on.  And I’m still that girl in church that occasionally claps offbeat and has to glance sideways to pick up the rhythm again.  Embarrassing.  But I’ve learned to embrace my inner gringa. And have accepted that she’s not so much offbeat as on her own beat.

I’m also the girl who grew up in a family that would throw spontaneous music parties in our basement, my dad and I dj’ing for hours from the crates of his album collection.  Dancing with my dad, sometimes on his feet, was how I learned to salsa, old school Puerto Rican style, which means bursting into funky improv to the rhythm from time to time.  My brother and I spent hours downloading early hip hop songs from the radio on cassette tapes and playing them back to memorize all the lyrics and the beats.  We would also choreograph little routines to rock at school dances, but that’s a story for another post, lol. Family get togethers for us meant salsa, soca and everything in between.

Being a Zumba teacher has taught me to channel my inner gringa to help make the movements relatable and easier to learn. It’s also taught me to trust my inner time keeper, the one that has been honed by years of family celebrations and the rhythms that are part of my heritage.

The even more amazing thing is that once I learn a new flavor or choreography, my muscle memory kicks in and I can pretty much do the song any where any time.  My over processing mind politely takes a back seat and let’s my body do it’s thing.  I’ve gained a new found respect for and faith in myself – the body knows.  So when you see that girl on the subway with big curly hair and head phones on single single double’ing and doing the Beto shuffle, just wink at me cause you know the rhythm’s taken over.


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What does being a “Peace and Security Leader” mean to you?

I was asked to give an answer to this question in 1000 characters or less, while applying for the IPSI Bologna 2012 Peace Symposium.  Here was my answer:

All human choices stem from one of two places: fear or love. Being a peace and security leader means, consistently guiding people, villages, nations to make choices out of love rather than fear. True peace and security comes from acting out of love for humanity and the Earth. People bend towards violence and war when they feel they have no other choice. The skilful peace and security leader shows that there are other choices and tools that will produce a more desirable result. Observing the 2007 Kenyan election crises and the mediation that followed, it was clear to me that, for the opposing parties, tribalism was a convenient political tool used to mucky the waters and carve out political hegemony. The leaders sought political gains by playing upon fears. The effective peace and security leader seeks the route that promotes unity through compassion and empathy for fellow citizens. A successful leader serves as a beacon of light, love and compassion. She knows that at the heart of conflicts are broken relationships between individuals. In her arsenal are the tools of forgiveness and service. She also knows that there is immense healing power in simply believing that change is possible.

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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Ladies and Gentlemen….The Hustle

This ‘living your dream’ thing….maannn! It is the best and simultaneously the hardest thing I’ve ever done!!  So here’s what I’m learning about living my passion.  It is non-stop. When you are aligned with your passion, it is an endless flow of good energy. And for us novices, who have not yet mastered the art of channeling this energy, we can easily become overwhelmed with a trillion amazing ideas. I thought I had become better at being selective, but even a few amazing ideas that you are channeling all your good flowing passion energy into can be overloading. 

It’s all a bit harder if you are going it alone or feel like you are. Everyone needs a solid team or as I like to call it #TeamMe.  In an effort to find my center and to remind myself of how supported I really am, I will outline here the elements of a good team that every dreamer shld have in place as they attempt the great juggling act of living their best life.

1. First and foremost, God, Source, Spirit, The Divine — whatever you call the life force that connects us all, is within us all and gives us breath. You should have a personal and direct relationship with this force and a means of daily communication. A daily spiritual practice will be helpful when you can’t tell your head from your tail.

2. A Life Coach, Motivator, Change Manager, Transformation Director. (Your team, you choose the titles)  This person is a great person to have in your corner to help you ask the important questions about who you are, what really makes you tick, what excites you. Questions to which you certainly already have the answers, but may need help uncovering. This person can help you pass the mic to your inner voice.

3. An Accountability Buddy. This is someone who is also awake to living in their passion. They ‘see’ you, in the Avatar sense, and believe in you. This person helps to keep you on track with your goals. You may, as in my case, want to have more than one accountability buddy, depending on the variety of projects you are cooking up.

4. A massage therapist. If this is not possible for you at this stage, someone who can provide regular hugs, aka shots of oxytocin, and the occasional foot rub, is a good alternative

5. A Fun Buddy — yes that word ends with an ‘n’ and not for naughty. While rather self-explanatory, it’s important to make sure this person is an energy enhancer not an energy drainer i.e. they are not a gossipmonger and don’t spend most of their time talking about all the things they hate (‘i hate traffic,’ ‘i hate when it rains,’ ‘i hate haters,’ etc).

In phase two you may want to consider bringing on a good accountant, a personal assistant — real or virtual, a person who is willing to deep clean your living space monthly for a reasonable fee, and a nutritionist or medical intuitive to make sure your body and brain are getting enough nutrients to support you on your fantastical journey.

If you have any other team members that you have found invaluable, please do share here.

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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Addicted to you

Several times in my life, I have thanked God that I do not have an ‘addictive personality.’  Witnessing what that’s like up close and personal, I thanked my lucky stars that it wasn’t me. No drug addiction. No alcohol addiction. No gambling addiction. No sex addiction. Phew!

Victor Boc, author of Solve All Your Money Problems Forever, defines addiction as emotion based demands. On closer examination, using Boc’s definition, there were / are ‘little’ addictions cluttering up my life. I call them little because it makes me feel better, but clearly if they were actually little I wouldn’t be dependent on them. These ‘little’ critters are the sneaky kind. The kind that are easy to ignore because society won’t recriminate me for them or because they seem so benign or because they are so ingrained in my psyche they seem normal.

Let’s start with the smaller ones. For some folks, if you put a bottle of alcohol in front of them, they have to finish it down to the last drop. For me, it was no potatoe chip left behind. Whether single size, family size, whatever size, there was no giving up til the bag was done. When a craving hit, I had to have my salty crunchy fix asap. A nutritionist advised me to stop eating potatoes because my body doesn’t respond well to foods in the night shade family. So I’ve swapped out potatoe chips for rice chips. Same story.

Another one that surprised me was my addiction to sugar. Yes, many of my addictions are around food. The same nutritionist suggested I completely cut out sugar from my diet and use only stevia – not honey, not cane sugar, not agave, not splenda – if I felt I needed the taste of sweetness. I had no idea how hard that would be. I never really considered myself as having a huge sweet tooth, but I always felt, like many Americans, I had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of a sugary treat when the craving hit. One year later, I still find myself sneaking the occasional snickers bar or cupcake or spoonful of sugary peanut butter. And feeling the consequences pretty much right away: the sugar high, followed by the brain numbing lethargy, the bloating, the pain in my joints – especially my knees – from the inflammation sugar causes in my body, the overgrowth of yeast…nuff said.

Food can engender some of the more emotional based responses. It’s something we need every day and as such our perspectives in relation to it can easily get caught up in our emotional outlook at any given moment. I have had to actively catch myself in the act of addictive behavior around food. The other day I was annoyed about something and mid-bag, with my brother Alexis as a witness, I said outloud ‘I am emotionally eating the heck out of these chips right now.’ Baby steps.

After these, my addictions start to get more deceptive and harder to spot. I must admit, I have been addicted to love. Much like with the potatoe chips, it didn’t too much matter the size or the package – ok, bring your minds back from the gutter now, lol – I had to have that high feeling of being ‘in love.’ I would go from relationship to relationship, with barely a breath in between, looking for that feeling. And I would often stay in a relationship well past its expiration date, hoping the feeling would come back. Sounds fiendish, right? It was.

Even more Decepticon-like was my addiction to feeling bad, melancholy, sadness. There was a period where I just couldn’t get enough of it. They say misery loves company. Well, my misery loved its own company. It went from feelings of anxiety and frustration about situations in my life to a friend that would always accompany me to an overwhelming experience I just could not turn off. I would feel sad just to be able to feel something. And it’s one of those fabulous ‘gateway’ addictions that gets the others going too, the emotional eating, being ‘in love’ as an escape route.

At the end of the day, who cares? It’s only rice chips and peanut butter. And doesn’t everybody have relationship trouble? Addiction – succumbing to emotion based demands – acts as a repellant of what we truly want. If I want comfort and assurance and I reach for chips, my net total will be momentary distraction and probably pimples, not the comfort I was seeking. If I want joy and look for it in the next relationship instead of in me, I am actually blocking my own deeper happiness. Reality is always waiting in the wings to check back in once we’re done escaping. The key for me has been awareness, forgiving myself and then changing my perspective about my reality.


Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


Magic soul medicine

Desiderata -by max ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann c.1920

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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Healing


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